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Letting process

Lettings


Critical dates schedule

The Iowa DOT's Office of Contracts normally has a highway letting the third Tuesday of each month. These lettings include interstate, primary and secondary road work, and maintenance projects. The Iowa DOT also lets local projects that involve federal aid.

The Iowa DOT uses The Des Moines Register to advertise its letting dates for bids because the Register has the widest newspaper circulation in Iowa. The official letting advertising is on the first Monday of each month.

The following is a general description of the contract letting process, the actual contract documents govern in all cases.

Prequalification to bid

Competency and qualification of bidders is addressed in Article 1102.01 of the Standard Specifications.

To be prequalified to bid as a prime contractor on most work types, a contractor must submit a Contractor Financial-Experience-Equipment Statement Contractors’ Forms (Iowa DOT Form 650004) at least five calendar days prior to the scheduled letting date. This form can be viewed at Form 650004 or by calling the Iowa DOT’s Office of Contracts at 515-239-1414.

Form 650004 contains important information about maximum prequalification amounts and bidding restrictions. On Form 650004, a contractor identifies the class of work that best represents the company's experience. To be prequalified to submit a bid on a particular proposal, a company must be recognized as a contractor engaged in the class of work provided for in the plans and specifications of that proposal.

Prequalification, the submittal of Form 65004, is not required on projects involving furnishing materials, granular surfacing, lighting, buildings, salvage and removal, wells, traffic signals, pavement markings, and designated small business initiative contracts. However, to submit bids for these types of projects, the company must still provide past work experience and be recognized as a contractor engaged in the class of work provided for in the plans and specifications of each proposal on which the company is bidding.

Requesting eligibility to bid

Requests to bid must be submitted by noon the day prior to letting as provided in Article 1102.05 of the Standard Specifications.

Contractors must be authorized by the Office of Contracts to submit a bid as a prime contractor. To submit a request to bid as a prime contractor, use the “Request Bidder Eligibility” function on the Bid Express website.

A Bid Express subscriber must log in. Once logged in, select the desired letting date. Choose the “Request Bidder Eligibility” function in the “Also Available” box. Select the desired proposals from the list. Choose the “Request Eligibility” button. A dialogue box will appear. Enter your company name or Iowa DOT "Vendor ID" in the "Bidder ID" box. Then select your "Vendor ID" from the drop-down box that appears. Complete the remaining fields as required.

Non-Bid Express subscribers should enter their Iowa Department of Transportation assigned "Vendor ID" in the "Bidder ID" field. Contact the Iowa DOT's Office of Contracts if you don’t know the "Vendor ID" or a "Vendor ID" has not been assigned to the company.


You must report the total amount of uncompleted work under contract for your company, the amount of incomplete work that is subcontracted to others and whether your company is a “Resident Bidder” as defined by to Iowa Code 73A.21.

Vendors who want to be shown on the list of eligible bidders must mark “Confidential?” as “No” when requesting bidder eligibility. When the request is approved by the Iowa DOT, the vendor’s name will appear on the list of eligible bidders. Vendors who marked “Confidential?” as “Yes” and who are approved by the Iowa DOT will not appear on the list of eligible bidders. It is the responsibility of the vendor to ensure that they have been approved as an eligible bidder before submitting a bid.

A company must have sufficient resources to complete the work outlined in the proposal. When the Office of Contracts receives a company’s request to bid, staff will analyze the company’s bidding capacity by subtracting the uncompleted work under contract from the maximum prequalification limit. This will provide the company’s bidding capacity for the upcoming letting. Additional information may be requested to furnish evidence of the company’s ability to do the work as specified.

Plans, estimating proposals and notice to bidders

The "Current Letting Information" page on the Iowa DOT’s Office of Contracts' website includes the notice to bidders, downloadable electronic plans and estimating proposals, and other letting-related information. Letting documents for the regular monthly lettings are available beginning the third Tuesday of the month prior to the letting.

Bidding and construction resources

It is the responsibility of the bidder to examine the site of work and contract documents for any proposal on which the contractor is bidding.

Standard specifications book and supplemental specifications
The Standard Specifications for Highway and Bridge Construction and Supplemental Specification contain requirements pertaining to the method and manner of performing work or the quantity and quality of materials to be furnished under the contract. The book and specifications can be viewed at Electronic Reference Library or ordered through the Iowa DOT’s Office of Support Services at 515-239-1324.

Division 11 of the Standard Specifications contains many of the requirements for the bidding process.

Standard road plans
The Standard Road Plans Manual contains standard drawings that are not reproduced in the plan. The standards designated on the plan are used for the contract. This manual can be viewed at Electronic Reference Library or ordered through the Iowa DOT’s Office of Support Services at 515-239-1324.

Materials Instructional Memorandums
The Iowa DOT's Office of Materials Instructional Memorandums (IMs) contain specific information about procedures concerning the acceptance of materials. These memorandums can be viewed at Electronic Reference Library or ordered through the Iowa DOT’s Office of Support Services at 515-239-1324.

Requesting eligibility to bid – joint ventures

A contractor may join with another contractor to request to bid a project as a joint venture. Each of the contractors must be prequalified with the Iowa DOT. The joint venture's bidding capacity will be the sum of each contractors' maximum qualification minus the sum of each contractors' uncompleted work under contract.

In a joint venture, a letter should be sent to the Iowa DOT's Office of Contracts requesting the joint venture and designating one contractor as the lead contractor. All contract documents will be sent to the lead contractor. For joint ventures, both contractors must sign the bidding proposal and bid bond.

If the bid will be submitted electronically, a new Bid Express digital ID must be created for the joint venture. Both contractors must sign a “Request to Submit Bids Electronically” form before the Office of Contracts will approve the digital ID. This form is listed as page 17 of the Contractor Financial-Experience-Equipment Statement Contractors’ Forms (Form 650004).

Eligible bidder and plan holders lists

This information is posted in two lists on the Bid Express website. Contractors authorized to bid as a prime are included in the “Plan Holders” list and the “Eligible Bidder” column is marked “Yes.” A company is not eligible to bid as a prime contractor unless shown accordingly.

Subcontractors, suppliers and others may include themselves in the “Voluntary Plan Holders” list.

A company may access either list for all proposals in the letting. On the Bid Express website, select the letting of interest. In the “Also Available” box on the right side of the page, select “Plan Holders/Eligible Bidders.” The “Plan Holders” list, including eligible bidders, appears immediately above the “Voluntary Plan Holders” list.

A company may also access either list for a single proposal in the letting. On the Bid Express website, select the desired letting and then select the proposal of interest. In the “Also Available” box on the right side of the page, select “Plan Holders/Eligible Bidders.” The “Plan Holders” list, including eligible bidders, appears immediately above the “Voluntary Plan Holders” list.

Each list may be exported. At the right hand side of the page, just above each list, is a selection to “Export (csv)” or “Export (tab).” Make a selection and follow the instructions in the dialogue box.

To be included on the “Voluntary Plan Holders” list, add the company information through the Bid Express website. Select the desired letting and then select the proposal of interest. In the “Also Available” box on the right side of the page, select “Plan Holders/Eligible Bidders.” Scroll down to the top of the “Voluntary Plan Holders” list, choose the “Add” button on the left side of the page and enter the information in the dialogue box. Bid Express subscribers who login prior to accessing this function will have many of the data fields pre-populated with their company information.

To subscribe to an email listing of plan holders, complete the information on the Current Letting Information page.

Questions and addendums

When a proposal has been advertised for bid, all questions must be directed to the Office of Contracts though the Q&A feature on the Bid Express website. To ask a question or view submitted Questions and Answers go to the individual proposal and click on ‘Questions and Answer’ in the ‘Also Available’ box.”

Between the time of advertisement and letting date, it is sometimes necessary to issue an addendum to correct or modify the contract documents. Addendums are posted on the Bid Express website. The contractor is responsible to check if any addendums have been issued for a proposal. The bid may not be read if all addendums issued have not been acknowledged.

A company may subscribe to receive an email notification of every addendum written. In addition, Bid Express offers addenda notification subscriptions through the Bid Express website.

Proposal guaranty/bid bond

With very few exceptions, a company must submit a proposal guaranty/bid bond with each bid as per Article 1102.11 of the Standard Specifications. The required amount of the proposal guaranty/bid bond is shown on the first page of each estimating proposal.

The Iowa DOT's has two bid bond forms available.
• Proposal Guaranty/Bid Bond form (Form 131084)
• Annual Bid Bond form (included as page 16 on Form 650004) – for any bids submitted during the date range listed on the form.

Other methods of complying with the proposal guaranty requirements are provided in Article 1102.11 of the Standard Specifications.

Submitting a bid

Only contractors authorized to bid a proposal may submit a bid for a contract.

Unless otherwise specified, bidders shall submit an electronic bid with digital signature using bidding software furnished by the Iowa DOT and electronic bid submittal procedures of the Iowa DOT. To do so, a company must use the Expedite software provided by the Iowa DOT and submit a bid through the Bid Express website. A company must submit a “Request to Bid Electronically” form to the Iowa DOT’s Office of Contracts. A digital ID will be required. The Expedite software, instructions for both how to obtain the digital ID and on the internet bidding process, are all available on the Bid Express website. The “Request to Bid Electronically” form is available from the Office of Contracts.

All bids must be electronically submitted except when bidding on a proposal that does not require submission of the Contractor Financial-Experience-Equipment Statement Contractors’ Forms (Iowa DOT Form 650004). In that situation, a company may submit a paper bidding document provided by the Iowa DOT. (As mentioned previously, prequalification is not required on projects involving furnishing materials, granular surfacing, lighting, buildings, salvage and removal, wells, traffic signals, pavement markings, and designated small business initiative contracts.)

Bid openings

Bids are received until the bidding deadline as listed on the estimating proposal. After opening, all bids are reviewed for responsiveness prior to being read publically. The apparent bid results are posted on Bid Express beginning approximately a half-hour after the bid deadline. If the bid is incomplete or irregular, the bid is not read and the reason it is not read is listed on Bid Express under “Apparent Bids.” A letter is also sent to the contractor explaining why the bid was not read.

Award of contracts

The Iowa DOT's practice is to award a contract to the lowest responsive bidder within 30 days of the letting or reject all bids on the project. Contracts for state projects are normally sent to the contractor within one week of the letting. Contracts for city and county projects are sent to the appropriate local jurisdiction. The local agency makes the final award decision.

A contract bond is required as specified in Article 1103.05 of the Standard Specifications. Form 181419 is required. The bond is held to cover all work included in the contract, whether performed by the prime or a subcontractor. The bond must be at least 100 percent of the contract sum.

Also, a current certificate of insurance must be on file with the Iowa DOT's Office of Finance before the execution of the contract.

Subcontracting

Any work to be performed by subcontract must be authorized by the Department. Instructions, flowcharts and related information may be found here:

The required SiteXchange software may be downloaded here: http://www.iowadot.gov/contracts/bidx_utilityfiles.htm

The total amount to be subcontracted cannot exceed 70 percent of the contract amount unless a different percentage is designated on the proposal (Article 1108.01 of the Standard Specifications).

Subcontractors are not required to complete the prequalification process, however, an approved equal employment opportunity (EEO)/affirmative action (AA) policy may be required as described under EEO/AA Policy requirements.

Contract administration

Negotiation is prohibited between the bid deadline and contract execution. After a contract is fully executed, any questions concerning contract administration should be directed to the assigned project engineer. The project engineer will be shown on the contract.

Construction Manual
This document provides guidance on administrative procedures during the construction phase. While not legally defined as a “contract document”, it provides a framework for industry and project engineers to successfully complete the construction process. This manual can be viewed at Electronic Reference Library or ordered through the Iowa DOT’s Office of Support Services at 515-239-1324.

Summary of awarded contract prices

This information is now located in the “Downloads” on the Bid Express website (www.bidx.com) for each letting.

Tabulation of bids for Iowa DOT contracts are usually available one week after the bid opening. Bid tabulations for non-Iowa DOT contracts are posted one month after the bid opening. This information is on the Department’s website at: http://www.iowadot.gov/contracts/BidTabs.html .

EEO/AA policy requirements

EEO/AA requirements apply to all prime contractors and subcontractors who have been awarded a subcontract equal to or exceeding $10,000.

Each contractor must have an EEO/AA policy approved by the Iowa DOT’s Office of Employee Services prior to being awarded a contract. The EEO/AA policy must be reviewed by the company and resubmitted each year.

More information about EEO/AAA requirements, along with contact information, is available at: www.iowadot.gov/civilrights/index.aspx.

Contact us

Email: dot.contracts@dot.iowa.gov
Phone: 515-239-1414